[R] R GUI For Which User?
Frank E Harrell Jr
fharrell at virginia.edu
Thu Jul 11 04:19:30 CEST 2002
On Wed, 10 Jul 2002 13:30:06 -0700
"Zed A. Shaw" <zedshaw at zedshaw.com> wrote:
> Hi All,
> I've been staying out of this discussion as I'm too busy actually
> implementing the GUI to argue over toolkits and languages or whether making
> things easy for people ruins their education. As a *student* I can tell you
> that you are dead wrong if you think making something difficult makes it
> easier to learn. The statement itself is just absurd. As a researcher in
> Human Computer Interfaces and Educational Technology, I can tell you that
> you are wrong if you think making interfaces harder makes people smarter.
> What I find strange is how everyone on this list is most likely using R to
> do empirical research, and not single person has offered any empirical
> evidence to support their claims as to what makes a usable interface for
> students. Practice what you preach! If you claim that "students do not
> learn with a GUI", then back it up with some research.
> I guarantee that if you actually did some surveys and experimentation, you'd
> find that you really don't understand student's needs. Based on my
> experiences as a student, I can tell you point blank that the worst
> professors are the ones who know nothing about their students. Likewise,
> the worst computer programs are the ones designed by programmers who know
> nothing about their users. I intend to build a GUI that focuses on what
> students need, not on what professors think students need.
> Now, with that said, I'm going back to work. Hopefully, with all these
> great *researchers* in here, I'll start seeing some *evidence* supporting
> what works in an R user interface.
> Zed A. Shaw
> University of British Columbia
With all due respect I feel that your opinions are somewhat naive. I have been doing and teaching data analysis for many years and spend a lot of time watching students. Students do not learn good habits by using GUIs and they certainly do not learn how to do reproducible research that way. You are wrong in assuming that professors try to make something difficult and even more wrong in assuming that students should avoid difficulties. I shudder to think what a GUI designed by a student for students will look like based on what you've said.
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Frank E Harrell Jr Prof. of Biostatistics & Statistics
Div. of Biostatistics & Epidem. Dept. of Health Evaluation Sciences
U. Virginia School of Medicine http://hesweb1.med.virginia.edu/biostat
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